There are very few dishes that are as recognizable and widely loved as pizza is. Pizza is a beloved dinner all around the world, with different countries and even different areas of countries putting their own spin on what constitutes the perfect pizza creation.
Some places put a lot of focus onto the toppings of the pizza, making sure that you can get the most flavor per bite you take. Other places make sure that the dough they use is light, fluffy, and airy, giving you the perfect vehicle for the toppings of the pizza.
There are also plenty of places that will provide a thin, crisp crust, allowing you to have a satisfying crunch when you bite into the pizza for the first time.
However, cooking and baking a pizza on your own is not nearly as simple as enjoying one. There are a lot of aspects that you have to pay attention to.
You have to make sure you aren’t using too many toppings to affect the dough’s cooking process and you also need to make sure the dough can cook adequately as well. It can go without saying that a lot of beginner pizza makers will run into their fair share of pizza dough troubles.
One of the most common troubles that people will run into when they are making their pizza is they realize the dough they made came out far too tough for a suitable pizza. While the dough has a big impact on how the pizza tastes and feels, the dough should not be the focal point of the pizza: it should be the base of it.
There are many different things that can cause your pizza dough to be too tough, and it is important to learn what tough pizza dough feels and looks like before you put it all into the oven. It is much easier to fix dough that is raw and uncooked than it is to try and remedy cooked, tough dough.
What Causes Dough to Become Tough?
When cooking most pizzas, you will want the dough to be pliable and easy to work with.
Depending on the type of crust and base you are looking for, you will want your dough to be easy to work with, and you will want to make sure you are not overworking the pizza dough. Here are a few things to consider if you believe your pizza dough has become too tough.
First things first, the dough for your pizza can quickly become too tough to work with if you are using too much flour or the wrong kind of flour. Some types of flour, especially wheat flour substitutes, can be much grainier than your standard baking flour.
In fact, this is such an important part of the dough’s baking process that there are actually some types of flour that pizza makers prefer because it is finer than the standard baking flour.
If you used flour that is too coarse or if you used too much flour in your dough, you can end up with stiff, hard to work with dough. Once you already put the flour into the dough, you usually cannot take it out, so be mindful of the type of flour you are using.
Additionally, you can make your dough too tough by overworking it with the rolling pin (or your hands). Typically, pizza dough is meant to have tiny little air bubbles that, when the dough is placed into the oven, will expand and add volume to the pizza.
When you overwork the dough, you end up popping all of these tiny air bubbles, meaning that nothing will really expand when you put the dough into the oven, leaving you with a pizza that doesn’t taste or feel very good in the mouth.
Now that you understand what can go wrong in the pizza-making process, you can begin to learn how to remedy the pizza and try to work with the dough to turn it back into the pliable dough that everyone wants for their pizzas.
Fixing the Tough Pizza Dough
The way you fix dough that has become too tough will depend entirely on what caused the dough to become like this in the first place.
If your dough is too tough because you added too much flour during the kneading process, you may not know what to do because you cannot really remove the flour from the dough. Generally, what you will want to do is use a bit of water to try and bring back the hydration ratio.
This may not always work, as the flour has already been worked into the dough, but it may be worth trying if you want to salvage your dough recipe.
In the future, try to use minimal amounts of flour, aside from the times when you truly need it. It is far, far easier to add more flour to dough that is too loose and won’t hold a shape than it is to try and remedy flour that has been worked into the dough.
If your dough is too tough because you overworked it during the kneading process, it will be much easier to fix. When you notice that your dough has become tougher than you wanted for your pizza, you will simply want to let the dough rest for some time.
Typically, you will want to give the dough about 20 minutes of time before you come back to it.
By giving the dough some time where it is unbothered, you allow the flour and water within the dough to “replenish,” so to speak, which begins the chemical reaction for forming gluten on its own.
This will not only give the dough more flavor, but it also usually means that you won’t have to knead and work with the dough nearly as much as you otherwise would.
When deciding if the dough is ready for the next step in the baking process, you should make sure the dough is semi-smooth, without any major lumps or bumps, but not completely smooth, as this means there are no air bubbles that can rise with the dough in the oven. The dough itself shouldn’t be too elastic and springy, but it shouldn’t be akin to a rock either.
Keeping these things in mind will help you create the perfect dough the next time you plan on making a pizza.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.